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Shooting Lab | Chronographs | PressureTrace | LoadForce | Software Updates| Tech Articles

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Windows Shooting Lab Update

Shooting Lab 4.9.0 Upgrade (released 4/11/19 - 24.1 mb) - Upgrades installed Shooting Lab software version 4.0 or newer to the current 4.9.0 release.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Installed versions of Shooting Lab older than 4.0 (predate Vista) are no longer supported with downloadable upgrades.
Too much has changed in Windows and the old installations should be replaced with a clean install from a current CD.*
Replacement/Upgrade CD's are available for $20 to registered users.

Changes in 4.8.9 to 4.9

Primarily a maintenance release.
Corrected issue where English/metric conversions did not work in dialogs.
Fixed numerous text display issues caused by ever changing font metrics in Windows.
Removed CED/Chrony RS-232 serial support from Chron Analysis window (now use the old CED Data Collector or Chrony software, then cut and paste).
Added new Plugin for atmospheric calculations.

Changes in 4.8.1 to 4.8.8

Added Contextual "Right Click" editing functionality for all text fields program wide.
"Elevation:" title now properly displays in Ext. Bal. parameters at different display text scaling.
Corrected a problem where opening saved Gyro files would not properly populate the Ogive data.
Enhancements to Labradar support. Files saved in the Chronograph Files folder from S.D. disk can now be more easily opened.
Atmospheric conditions menus and dialogs are enhanced to automatically display the Density Altitude.
You can now enter Density Altitude directly into the add/edit conditions menu or elevation field in generation parameters.
The User Guide has been updated with more explanation re atmospheric pressure and conversion of conditions. Corrected issue where Shooting Log entries might not be saved.
Improved Shooting Log updating of loaded round inventory in load record databases.
Corrected a problem where the Drag Basis button in Coef. of Drag analysis could lock up the program.
Corrected a problem where the Interior Ballistics burn rate table would not open and locked the program.
Corrected a problem caused by compiler changes where using the Target Analysis custom hole size would cause the segment to freeze.
Fixed a problem writing files.

Changes in 4.7.9 - 4.8.0

Revised two areas of code that could cause problems on start, conflict with virus software or cause the backdrop to cover the menubar
Improved window interleaving
Corrected plug-in resizing on systems with increased text sizing
Removed UAC manifest and returned to default UAC to avoid annoying prompt on start

Changes in 4.7.8

Added support for Magnetospeed and Labradar chronographs
Labradar support includes ability to calculate B.C.'s from captured doppler data
Returned to full drag tables for better transonic and long range trajectories and B.C.'s from 100 yd data
Retained abbreviated tables as separate menu for comparison
Corrected an error the bullet menu within Coef. of drag where ogive would not properly save
Corrected potential target analysis printing error that prevent proper sized output
Compiled with a new compiler
Several small cosmetic fixes

Changes in 4.7.7

Fixed an issue with the calendar window not opening from "Date" menus
Corrected an error in the Ext. Bal. Maximum Range menu that failed to open a progress window
Several small cosmetic fixes

Changes in 4.7.5 - 4.7.6

Added a few calibers
Revised the Target Analysis system to resize holes for different system scale settings
Corrected an error where the Target Analysis date calendar would not open
Several small cosmetic fixes
Significant revisions of code throughout the program for Windows 10
Stable support for text scaling in Windows
Improved appearance at different text scale settings
All new Clear Type fonts and full support for text scaling
Fixed reported bugs to bullet and click menus

Changes in 4.7.0 - 4.7.4

There were major revision with exensive code modification and new features in these releases
Improved window opening locations.
Added "Zeroed" checkbox option to windage column of Ext. Bal. output.
Added checkbox to include windage adjustment with lead on moving target
Revised error correction routines once again to improve speed
All bullet specs used anywhere in the program now can be saved in the bullet menu
Expanded both Gyro Stability and Coef. of Drag analysis to incorporate ogive data
Intercept errors produced by .drg files where specified muzzle velocity exceeds the drg file content
Improved Max Range calculations and eliminated errors when wind direction set to 12 O'clock
Revised the documentation
Added Air Gun pellet G1 table

Changes from 4.6. to 4.6.9

Added the ability to use .drg Doppler Radar range files from Lapua or other sources
Gyroscopic Drift added to Exterior Ballistics with Miller S.G. estimate
Coriolis added to Exterior Ballistics
Improved Gyroscopic Stability Analysis for use with Gyro Drift in Exterior Ballistics
Improved Coefficient of Drag Analysis with Litz G7 Estimator
Coef. of Drag can be exported as .drg data for use in Shooting Lab or other apps
Revised entry error checking and formatting
All standard drag models changed from SAAMI to NATO for better match to DOD reports
Compiled using new release of development tools to improve performance and correct compiler errors
Added autofill code to Ext Bal barometric pressure field to avoid errors when left blank
Changed how second cart diagram viewing window opens
Added ability to add Adobe pdf files to the Blank Targets folder, then print and view from the "Print Blank Targets" window
Revised Target Analysis background image scaling so pictures can be used that are skewed slightly
Added customized print output to Ext. Bal.
Added Maximum Range Calculations to Ext. Bal.
Added new powders to Int. Bal. and a new multi-dimensional burn list
Added new calibers to Cartridge Info.
Added ability to open two Cartridge Info. windows at the same time
Added ability to customize Cartridge Info. data and add wildcats to user files
Added Litz G7 B.C. table
Enhanced the Mil calculation Plug-in
Improved report printing and printed output text formatting
Added development hooks for future features...more to come

*Important Notes About Vista or Windows 7, 8, 10 & 11
Shooting Lab versions older then 4.0 were not compliant with modern versions of the Windows operating system (Vista or newer) and will not run correctly with User Account Controls enabled. If you are moving to a new Windows system from Windows XP and only have a Shooting Lab 3.6 cd, we recommend getting the current release on CD. For the last update to 3.6.9, click here.

Common Questions Related to BC's & Exterior Ballistics

Why when I run a G1, G5 & G7 trajectory for a boat tail bullet to 1800 yards and let Shooting Lab convert a G1 B.C. do I get less drop with G1 than either G5 or G7? This does not seem right if the G1 standard projectile shape resembles that of a round nosed 45 ACP slug.

Why when I use the same BC's I use with other software the trajectory output does not match?

How do I use the drag model calculations to find BC's?

Why do my trajectory path plots not look as good as the sample?

How to I use data downloaded from a CED Millennium Chronograph?

Why does the bullet impact point not show on the right side of a trajectory plot? I only get arrows.

Questions Related to Gyro Stability & Load Density

I have an old gun that I know little about. How can I find the barrel twist rate?

Why are the last bullet settings for in the Drag Coefficient analysis?

What are the limitations to load density analysis?

General Questions

Why doesn't the Shooting Lab calculate the velocity lost between the Muzzle to the first screen of a chronograph?

How can I avoid having to reset the custom hole size menu every time I enter a new target?

How can I get accurate results from the Shooting Lab if I don't have a chronograph?

Why don't you sell published load data to work with the Shooting Lab?

Something no longer works....what should I do to fix it?

Why do some button titles and headers look incorrect on my computer?

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Common Questions Related to BC's & Exterior Ballistics

Why when I run a G1, G5 & G7 trajectory for a boat tail bullet and let Shooting Lab convert a G1 B.C. do I get less drop with G1 than either G5 or G7? This does not seem right if the G1 standard projectile shape resembles that of a round nosed 45 ACP slug.

The ballistic coef. for a bullet indicates how its velocity will erode in flight compared to a "Standard Projectile", which Ingalls defined as 1 inch in dia., weighing 1 pound, OF THE SAME SHAPE. This last part of his definition is what most seem to ignore.

In the 1880's Ingalls and Mayevski measured velocity from the swing of a heavy steel plate when hit by a bullet. The tools available were obviously crude by modern standards. They did not understand how drag increases as the bullet approaches the sonic barrier. In the late 40's better instrumentation was available so the original Ingalls drag model was modified to show some increase when approaching the SOS but the standard projectile used for the calculations still resembled the shape of a round nosed 45 ACP slug. This was the beginning of the G1 drag model. More were developed over the years at the U.S. Army's BRL in Aberdeen, MD for other bullet shapes.

Those who shoot boat tails to 1000+ yards always experience more drop at long ranges then is indicated by G1 based calculations. This is because when compared to perhaps the least aerodynamic of all bullet shapes (G1) resulting B.C.'s are significantly exaggerated. It is also why you see published 30 caliber VLD B.C.'s as large as .750! You don't need to be a physicist to realize if a bullet only weighs 220 grains (compared to a 1 lb. standard) and is less than 1/3 the diameter, it cannot possible retain 75% of the standard projectiles velocity. Indeed if a proper G7 standard projectile were used as the basis for calculations a VLD bullet's B.C. will only be around .270 or less.

In this example even though the G1 standard projectile is not aerodynamic and its drag model has more velocity erosion than any other bullet shape, the exaggerated B.C. of .750 will generate a trajectory model much flatter than a 30 caliber VLD bullet could ever hope to achieve. Using a G7 standard and a proper B.C. of around .270 and results will more closely correspond to "real world" results.

Converting a G1 B.C. may not always work correctly depending on how the G1 B.C. was determined (see next paragraph). The best results will be achieved by calculating a B.C. using measured velocity erosion (or trajectory data with velocities).

Why when I use the same B.C.'s I use with other software the trajectory output does not match?

The B.C.'s you have been using are probably based on the G1 drag model and you entered the B.C. after changing the drag model from G1. When using G1 based B.C.'s always set the drag model to G1 first. Then, when you change to a different drag model Shooting Lab will offer to adjust the B.C. for the new drag model. Or, simply leave the drag model set to G1 if you are attempting to duplicate other output and do not care about long range accuracy.

Many G1 B.C.'s are actually the calculated "Average" of B.C.'s for a range of "Reasonable" velocities and may be over or under stated at higher or lower velocities. You can use published trajectory tables to find the actual G1 B.C. for a muzzle velocity. Use the "Calculate B.C. From 2 Range Velocities" option and enter the muzzle velocity, a down range velocity and distance between them (make sure the selected drag model is G1 or the basis for the table and check the "sea level" conditions dialog button). The resulting B.C. will be the actual sea level G1 B.C. for the published table's muzzle velocity and the Shooting Lab's trajectory output will be nearly identical.

Assuming the published table was developed from actual range firing tests (which few are these days) you can then change the drag model to one that better matches the shape of your bullet. When prompted to adjust the B.C., click affirmative. The resulting trajectory output will better match "Real World" experience at long ranges.

How do I use the drag model calculations to find B.C.'s?

The preferred method is to use measured range velocities at the muzzle and as far down range as you can safely shoot through a chronograph. However, if you do not want to shoot through your chronograph at long ranges, or do not own a chronograph; you can calculate approximate B.C.'s from bullet dimensions.

Select the "Calculate Coef." & "From Estimated Drag Coef." menu and enter the bullet's dimensions. Two menus used to fine tune the calculations are provided under the heading "Aerodynamics". The first, "Air Flow", specifies tail and/or nose turbulence with 3 options. For most rifle bullets use the "Flat Base" option. Use "Boat Tail" for bullets designated as "Very Low Drag (VLD)" with long tapered tails. The "Blunt Nose" option should only be used for flat based/blunt nosed handgun bullets.

A second menu "Nose Ogive" is used to fine tune calculations for bullet nose shape. Nose ogive is the curve of the bullet's nose, usually defined in calibers. Most bullets fall into one of 3 categories. Typical rifle bullets have a "Tangent" nose ogive where the radius line from the center of the circle defining the nose curve intersects the top of the bullet's main cylindrical body. If the radius line intersects the body of a bullet nearer its tail it is called a "Secant" ogive. Hornady Spire Points and many of the new "VLD" bullets have a "Secant" ogive. These bullets look real "Pointy" and nearly conical, but still have a slight curve to them. The "Conical" option should only be needed for cone-nosed handgun bullets. Click the "Calc. Drag Coef." button or type the "enter" key twice to generate a table of output. (For more info. about the output see the User Guide.)

Click the "Plot" button to help identify which drag model should be used with the bullet. Move the plotted "X" line with the up and down buttons. The best model will be the one that closely parallels your bullet's "X" line. Standard drag models have been rounded or adjusted to cover a wide range of bullets. If none of the standard drag models seem parallel you can choose to define your own 'Custom' drag model by clicking the "Post' button and set the 'Custom' drag menu to your calculated data. Remember, when you use your own 'Custom' model on the bullet used to calculate model, the Sectional Density will become the B.C. and the Form Factor will always be 1. (For more info. about the output see the User Guide.)

If you decide to use one of the standard drag models close the plot window and return to the coef. Of drag analysis. Set the drag model basis with the "Basis" button. Select lines of output for a range of muzzle velocities that the bullet could reasonably achieve. Click the "Ave" button to find the average B.C. within the selected velocity range (or simply leave the optional checkbox selected). You have just duplicated the method used by some bullet companies to calculate B.C.'s.

The Shooting Lab will convert B.C.'s automatically when the drag model is changed. If you are using published Ballistic Coefficients it is important to remember they may have been calculated using different methodology. If a trajectory table with velocities is available for the B.C., we recommend setting the drag model to what was used to calculate the B.C. (Probably G1) and recalculating a new B.C. using two range velocities from the table. Then changing the drag model to one that better profiles the bullet should provide better long range results.

This information is also in the Labdocs.pdf file and user tips accessible within the program.

Why do my trajectory path plots not look as good as the sample?

To accentuate the Vital Zone when plotting a path use an end range that is just past the maximum point blank range. At least 8 range points (lines of output) should be generated. Using the "Smooth Plots" option will smooth trajectory curves but may modify the plot so it does not perfectly match calculated data points.

How do I use data downloaded from a Chronographsograph?

Shooting Lab supports direct download from Chronographsographs to the Analyze Chron Data window which is opened from the main menu. For the M2 USB model you must first install the software and drivers included on the CD that came with the chronograph or download the latest release here. No additional software is needed to download data from the Millennium RS-232 serial model. Simply set the kind of chronograph you have and port, then click the download button.

Why does the bullet impact point not show on the right side of a trajectory plot? I only get arrows.

The vertical and horizontal dimensions of a bullet path plot is to scale on both the left and right impact point views. By default the plot opens with the right hand impact point set to the far zero range. The crossing blue lines indicate your Line Of Sight's impact point on the target. If the wind has blown the bullet sufficiently right or left so it impacts outside of the available plot area an arrow at the edge will indicate where it is "off image". You can drag the scrolling handle under the left portion of the plot to move the plotted impact range closer which should then bring the impact point graphic into the potable area. If you want the impact point visible throughout the entire trajectory simply extend the trajectory end point in the generation parameters so the vertical bullet travel slightly exceeds wind deflection.


Questions Related to Gyro Stability & Load Density

I have an old gun that I know little about. How can I find the barrel twist rate?

You can find the twist rate of any barrel using the following method. Attach a cleaning brush to a rod and wrap the brush with a patch. Insert the patch-covered brush into the muzzle a couple inches. Mark the rod at the muzzle with a felt tipped pen or marker. If you are using a jointed rod, make sure all the joints are tight, then wrap any type of tape around the rod near the handle with a tape end sticking straight up as the "revolution indicator". Slowly push the rod into the barrel until the tape "revolution indicator" makes one complete turn. Mark the rod at the muzzle, remove the rod and measure the distance between the two marks. The distance between the marks is the barrel's twist rate.

What are the last bullet settings for in the Drag Coefficient analysis?

The Coefficient analysis uses aerodynamic modeling techniques to estimate the air drag on the surface of the projectile, nose & tail. Most air drag is produced at the nose and tail of a bullet during flight. The dimensional information you enter covers the basic factors needed for these calculations.

The "Laminar Air Flow" or how smoothly air moves around the bullet and if turbulence is created at the nose or base is defined with the "Aerodynamics" menu options. Most pointed objects create similar turbulence at the nose. Minor adjustments for a flat nose tip is considered in the meplat dimension but an additional factor is needed for extremely blunt nosed bullets such as true cylinder Wad Cutters. This is the "Blunt Nose" option which should be taken literally and used only for true flat nosed cylinders and Wad Cutters. Blunt Nosed also assumes a flat base. The Boat Tail or Flat Base option adds an overall turbulence value. The second pop-up menu "Nose Ogive" adds one final minor adjustment for "tangent", "secant" or "conical" nose shapes. You will notice this parameter only changes output slightly. For most production bullets not designated "VLD" or "Spire Point" leave this setting to "tangent" nose ogive.

What are the limitations to load density analysis?

Some powder companies will argue that load density is no longer a valid analytical tool due to new powder formulations. Yes, some powders with a high percentage of nitro (near 20%) ignite so easily low load density has less impact on accuracy;...however, these powders do not work well for all calibers and may have unbearable recoil, high pressures, or lower velocities.

We prefer to use powders that were designed for a particular caliber or range of calibers and view the issue as sort of a "Chicken and egg" situation. Does a powder work better because it was designed for a particular cartridge, or for other reasons? We don't really care but know most powders designed for a particular cartridge will produce nearly perfect load density. Competition shooters still use lots of slower burning powders that fill the case perfectly. This should tell you something. In addition, new cartridges have always been designed to take advantage of near perfect 100% load densities to help promote consistent ignition. If you only care about a gun going boom and the bullet coming out, then ignore load density; otherwise try to keep the load density between 90 and 105%.

General Questions

Why doesn't the Shooting Lab calculate the velocity lost between the Muzzle to the first screen of a chronograph?

First, we are not convinced the methods commonly employed are correct. As a bullet exits the muzzle bore friction stops but inertia and exhausting gases further accelerate the bullet. This has been verified with radar range tests. The only exception to this may be when the barrel is equipped with a supressor or brake that vents gas to the side before the bullet exits.

Vapor ChamberWhere the point of highest velocity is achieved relative to the muzzle will depend on a number of factors including barrel length as well as the bullet's mass and ballistic coefficient. Some will quote radar range data indicating acceleration only extends for 6 or so inches. That is correct but the better question is when does velocity erosion start.

After initial acceleration outside the barrel, the bullet continues to travel inside a plume of venting gases without much air drag.  The bullet may travel as far another 3 - 6 feet before measurable velocity erosion begins! The actual maximum velocity before reaching the first chronograph screen should therefore be no more than a couple feet per second higher than the velocity measured by the chronograph, or inside the instrumentation error for existing chronograph technology.

Unfortunately chronographs read into the IR spectrum so they must be placed after the venting gases dissipate and it is impossible to locate a chronograph at the actual point of peak velocity. Virtually all published velocities are based on a standard 10 feet from the muzzle, and the small difference will usually be smaller than the standard deviation of most loads. If the accuracy limitation of the chronograph is considered with the other factors, these calculations have little or no practical application.

If anyone has more information on this subject we would like to hear from you.

How can I avoid having to reset the custom hole size menu every time I enter a new target?

Opening any saved target file first of the same caliber will reset everything as it was last used when working with the caliber.

How can I get accurate results from the Shooting Lab if I don't have a chronograph?

Even if you do not own a chronograph the Shooting Lab will calculate B.C.'s. Just select the proper drag model (G1 is the most common basis) and use published velocity tables for your load. Your gun may not shoot the load at the published velocities, but the results will be better than other methods. The final trick is to use published velocity tables that are generated from laboratory tests rather than questionable computer programs. Many published tables are only verified with "real world" firing tests at the mid/average velocities. Often higher or lower velocities have been extrapolated using other methods.

You can also calculate B.C.'s by entering bullet dimensions in the C.D. analysis. This method is used by many bullet companies to estimate the B.C.'s of bullets. (See the Shooting Lab User Guide Technical Addendum chapter for more info.)

Why doesn't the Shooting Lab estimate internal pressure?

The U.S. Government invested millions at the Frankfort Arsenal and other test facilities to develop a computer model that could estimate the internal pressure and velocities for military small arms loads. Most internal ballistic models are based on this research and work reasonably well for calibers and powders similar to those used by the military, but to our knowledge no one has succeeded in developing a "general use" internal ballistic system that is accurate for ALL calibers and commercial powders.

RSI believes there is no way to accurately forecast pressures for a wide range of calibers, loading components and firearms using mathematical algorithms. There are simply too many variables. We believe this can only be safely accomplished with instrumentation designed for the purpose of measuring pressure. RSI offers hardware devices for this purpose. See PressureTrace

Why don't you sell published load data to work with the Shooting Lab?

Some PC software includes load data from various bullet and powder manufacturers. We are not convinced that the effort required to computerize already published load manuals is worthwhile for the following reasons. First, few load manuals indicate which loads are most accurate and accuracy is what most reloaders strive for. Second, guns of different manufacture tend to prefer different loads. What works in one firearm will not necessarily be the most accurate in another. Third, most serious reloaders simply use load manual data for the recommended "Maximum/Minimum Safe Load" recommendation and "work up" their own accuracy loads for their guns. Fourth, published data is often collected using special receivers and barrels. Velocities achieved from these "test guns" may not correlate to results from a typical production firearm. Fifth, reloaders with computerized data still buy load manuals for the other valuable information contained in them.

Our favorite "trick" question is which number in load manuals is most important, the maximum or minimum safe load. If you are an experienced reloader and follow safe practices you know it is the MINIMUM safe load that is the most important. Experienced reloaders always start at a lower charge and work up slowly while watching for signs of excessive pressure. Some powders if loaded at sufficiently low density can "pre-detonate" resulting in dangerously high pressures or even cause a catastrophic failure. This occurs primarily due to an exposed primer in the case which causes the powder to burn laterally rather than lengthwise thru the cartridge. If the powder is sufficiently volatile, the intense initial pressure can cause all the granules to detonate at once as if the cartridge was filled with grenade powder

Something no longer works....what should I do to fix it?

If your system is prone to lockups and does so when opening or closing any part of the Shooting Lab it is possible you have a corrupt program file. DO NOT uninstall Shooting Lab. If you uninstall the program you will remove all your custom menu and personal settings. Instead first run scandisk to repair any directory problems Windows may have. If the problem is not resolved reinstall from the Shooting Lab CD using the "repair" option (4.0 and later).

Why do button titles and some headers look incorrect on my computer?

Shooting Lab uses a common font called "Arial Narrow" for button text and some column headers. Unfortunately there are several variations of Arial Narrow, some of which do not include a bold type face. Other software installations may over write the file. The correct versions of the font for use with Shooting Lab are available below.

For PC's: Open your Fonts control panel and open the Arial Narrow font files. If sample text is not displayed the font may be corrupted. Delete the corrupted fonts and install the font from this file: Arial Narrow


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